Victims of sexual assault in Nova Scotia would be able to launch civil lawsuits regardless of when the assault took place under changes to the law promised Thursday by the province's justice minister.

The proposed amendment does not affect the statute of limitations on criminal charges.

"What the legislation will mean is that victims of sexual assault, regardless of when it happened, can sue, can launch a civil claim suit," Diab told reporters.

Currently, the Limitation of Actions Act removes the statute of limitations for any future victims of sexual abuse. The proposed amendment would allow for retroactive lawsuits, said Diab.

The bill comes after written requests to the province from individuals who were sexually abused as children by convicted criminal Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh.

Weldon MacIntosh-Reynolds, who testified against MacIntosh, said he wants to see the details of the law and discuss them with a lawyer before deciding what he will do.

"I'm happy they're going to do that," he said.

"They did nothing for us all along, and it's been a big coverup."

In the 1980s, MacIntosh was twice convicted of two separate sexual assaults and an indecent assault. He moved to India in 1994.

Extradition from India

In 1995, a Canadian man told police he had been abused by MacIntosh in the 1970s. Eventually, nine people came forward, resulting in more than 40 charges. Police contacted MacIntosh in 1996, but he did not return to Canada.

Canada sought to extradite him from India, but it took until 2007 to do so. His first trial began in 2010.

In 2010 and 2011, MacIntosh was convicted of 17 sex-related charges involving three complainants who were boys at the time of the offences, which allegedly took place in Port Hawkesbury during the 1970s.

But those convictions were overturned on appeal because it took too long to bring him to trial, partly because he had to be extradited from India.

On Sunday, it was announced that MacIntosh had been sentenced to a seven-year jail term by a Nepalese court for molesting a boy. He was also handed a fine of one million Nepalese rupees, reported the Hindustan Times. That's about $12,600 Canadian.

With files from The Canadian Press